November 2008
Texas Implements Foster Child EMR Program

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has implemented an online Health Passport program, which provides more than 30,000 foster children to have automatically updating electronic records that can follow them to a new home. The program was funded through a $4 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The first-of-its-kind program has its beginning in SB 6 from the 2005 State Legislature, a bill intended to improve programs under the state's Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), which includes a mandate that healthcare for foster children must be streamlined under a single management program. The bill also contained a "Medical Passport" section covering information the electronic passport should contain. Passage of the bill was followed by HHSC sessions with the DFPS, foster care providers, advocacy groups, healthcare providers and technology companies to outline the passport.

Superior HealthPlan, operated by St. Louis-based Centene Corp., was awarded the blanket contract for foster child healthcare management and has formed a new program called Star Health. They assembled groups of up to five full-time staff members to handle specific project areas in building the passport. Those areas include data interface management, access security, integrating whole assessment forms and reports, demographics and integrating the child's and caregiver's personal information. The framework technology was contracted out to Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner Corp., which used the Tennessee Medicaid Management system as a model for the Texas program.

Each passport displays basic personal data such as name, date of birth and medical contacts and consentors. System security includes a unique PIN for each individual's login, while large providers are allotted access to Health Passport based on a predetermined number of staffers. Access levels to 19 distinct user roles are also part of the security protocols, allowing cross-checking of the identity of the person to be verified against a master list of those with access to the system, thereby complying with HIPAA privacy measures.

Health Passport was initiated with two years of insurance claims and medical data for the more than 30,000 foster children. User satisfaction studies are currently being done by HHSC as they prepare a report for the Texas Legislature on the feasibility of expanding the program to all Medicaid users. The Health Passport is one of several features intended to overhaul the Texas foster child healthcare system and move towards electronic health records.

Copyright 2008
Nelson Publishing, 2500 Tamiami Trail North, Nokomis, FL 34275